These days few of us have access to pieces of land large enough to be able to grow most of the food we need, but towns and cities provide excellent opportunities to use permaculture design to create living spaces that are efficient in terms of resources. Balconies and roof-tops can be turned into growing spaces and community gardens offer opportunities to get your hands dirty. Public transport and bicycles are the most efficient ways to get around in the town and also the most environmentally sustainable.
Reducing our consumption of resources and therefore our impact on our environment requires a little bit more thinking and effort and is in many ways quite contrary to our busy lifestyles. Work often takes up so much of our time we end up going for the easy options - takeaway food in throw away containers, milk and bread from the nearest convenience store.
Thinking along permaculture lines means making choices that require less energy and produce less waste, and picking products that are fairly and environmentally produced. It can mean trying to source as much as possible from local growers to help boost the local economy and reduce waste and transport cost. Some items like coffee, tea and peanut butter you will not be able to source from your local farmer, but then you can make the choice of buying organic and Fair Trade and in that way support good and fair agricultural practices for farmers in other countries. Cooking from scratch is not only nutritious but also reduces waste and costs.
Cities also provide excellent opportunities for recycling, simply because there are so many people and hence so much stuff in circulation. There are many clever schemes for recycling stuff, from furniture to clothes to services. Taking part in clothes swaps, LETS schemes and using websites for sale of recycled goods helps reduce our consumption of stuff.
Ultimately living a permaculture life starts with our thinking. We need to start thinking of the bigger picture, of how we are part of a bigger, interdependent whole and our actions have an impact on everything including the ecosystem around us.
How can I get involved?
The Transition Network has a lot of interesting initiatives to help us move towards a more sustainable future, including, in many places, a local currency to help boost the local economy.
Community Supported Agriculture schemes offer opportunities to support local farms, get local produce and get involved practically if you wish to do so.
The Local Exchange Trading System helps to link you up with people offering goods and services in exchange, without the need for money
Websites like Gumtree also offer recycled goods for a cheap price.